If you’ve achieved your black belt and mastered the proper techniques required in martial arts, you may have considered making the transition from student to teacher. While it’s true that anyone who has mastered the skill could go on to instruct others, we’d argue that there is a certain set of attributes that make for a great instructor.
Here are some characteristics that we think differentiate a good instructor from a great one.
One of the best qualities that any instructor can have is patience. Throughout your teaching career, you’ll have students that vary in skill level. Some will catch on rather quickly while others will take weeks to master a simple skill.
A great teacher is one that has the patience to teach those who have a harder time, without getting frustrated, angry, or impatient. Students tend to thrive when instructors take the time to teach at a student’s speed without making them feel hopeless or less capable.
If you’re an instructor already, then chances are that you have the necessary skills to be teaching martial arts. The problem is that many instructors feel that once they’re qualified to teach, the learning ends. But this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Even if you’re qualified you must continue practicing. You must keep your skills sharp and stay abreast of any new developments or techniques in your field. The best teachers are the ones who always want to keep learning more so that they can impart that wisdom on to their students.
3. Make a connection
Get to know your students. Ask questions. Be genuinely interested in learning more about them and what they’re about. Students are much more likely to gravitate towards instructors who show they care.
A good instructor is always prepared. They’ll plan ahead for the lesson. By knowing your students, you can plan your objectives for each class and determine how long each objective will take to teach. It’s never a bad idea to have a plan B in case things veer off track. Being prepared makes people take you more seriously.
An instructor that is inspirational is one that can motivate students to action. If you can engage your students they’ll be motivated to keep moving forward and learning new skills. For them to be motivated, they need to feel your passion for your craft. You must lead by example.
Being a good instructor often means being somewhat flexible. You may have certain objectives to meet within a certain time frame, but if a student is falling behind it’s important to be able to make accommodations. Things don’t always go as planned, but good instructors can roll with the punches and get back on track when the timing is right.
To earn the respect of others, you must first show respect. Being the instructor doesn’t give you a free pass to boss people around and treat them as though you are superior. By showing respect towards your students, their parents, and other instructors, you set the bar for how others will treat you.
You may not always agree with how others do things or what they say, but there are ways to express differences without putting other people down. By respecting other people’s ideas and choices, you naturally command the respect of your students and peers.
Martial arts is about so much more than just self-defence. Being able to teach your students the proper techniques and associated skills is a great accomplishment, but it’s also important to teach them the theoretical side as well. The history of martial arts and how it came to be is a key part of that equation. You should also make it a priority to teach your students the proper terminology used in martial arts. That way your students will be well-rounded and know all the key aspects of their craft.
While you may not pay close attention to the language you use in everyday situations, it’s important to be mindful of this when teaching. While something you say may seem completely innocent to you, it may be perceived as an insult by someone else. Students are impressionable, and your words can influence them more than you think. Be sure to keep things positive.
Being an instructor is a big responsibility. By accepting this position you’re accepting being a role model for your students. The way that you teach them will go on to influence them in more ways than one. It could make the difference between them loving and hating the sport. It could also influence how proficient they become in their abilities. Even if they never excel, you can influence them in other ways as an instructor. Perhaps your lessons will help improve their self-esteem or confidence. Whatever the reason, you can feel confident knowing that in following these tips there’s no doubt you’ll be an excellent instructor.
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